A concept that is often overlooked by US companies is that Nearshore teams can be a true extension of your local teams, not simply an external operation. One insurance provider in California is leveraging this extended team model with its provider, Zventus, which has four delivery centers scattered across Mexico.
“To me, working with a contact center in Mexico is a no-brainer; we’ve lived it and we know it,” said a representative of the firm, which for now would prefer to remain anonymous due to ongoing acquisition talks.
“I’m hiring Mexicans who graduated in the US, in places like Sacramento and Long Beach. When you talk to them, you have no idea where they are from. They are essentially American native English speakers; they just can’t come back to the States because they may have been deported or have family commitments.”
Settling on Mexico
The company has been in the insurance industry for 20-25 years, starting out with 2 people answering phone calls in a Central American call center. As the firm grew, they increased the size of the operation, but didn’t like the model that this original provider offered.
“Since adopting the direct employment model we’ve been really happy with it,” said the client. “After six months, we’ve already promoted some Mexican individuals from entry-level calls to middle office and claims functions. They always look for ways to innovate, and have even created spreadsheets and tracking reports on their own. To the Mexicans, it’s a career, and they’re very proud of their work. In the US, agents can be less engaged, and can see the same roles as throwaway or interim jobs.”
Headquartered in Los Angeles, Zventus’ Mexican locations include Tijuana, Hermosillo, Obregon, and Guadalajara, on top of an additional center in Tampa, Florida.
Tijuana has been the company’s main call center in Mexico, due to the city’s larger pool of both English and Spanish-speaking talent, as well as the strong educational institutes nearby. Zventus is planning to expand this center in September 2017.
Hermosillo and Obregon are used primarily for the company’s data entry and claims processing services, due to the English ability being lower for speaking, but strong for reading and writing. Finally, Guadalajara heads up their software development services.
The biggest challenge for the client was understanding the HR laws and regulations in Mexico, as they are vastly different to those in the US. “People who are out sick for three days are protected, and if you fire people, you have to pay a severance,” he said.
Following the political uncertainty in the States, particularly surrounding outsourcing and NAFTA, the firm was originally concerned about working with a Mexican team, but once they realized that most of the proposed changes were about physical items that could be taxed, they moved ahead with the decision, happy to “deal with any issues if and when they happened” – an outlook that has ensured they are one step ahead.
For Zventus, English has proved to be the biggest challenge, while the external perception of Mexico is still a deciding factor for most clients.
“The closer you get to the US border, the easier it is to find talent,” said Diane Jester, Senior Vice President, Business Solutions at Zventus. “We made the decision to leverage Tijuana for its English-speaking talent pool. If cost was more of an issue for clients, then we would look at other locations.”
One of the perks for Zventus is that clients will more easily travel to Mexico, and there hasn’t been an issue about where the company is located. Furthermore, the company is generating more success stories with a 1-2 person pilot model, allowing companies to dip their toes in the water before taking the plunge.
For those of you still concerned by the stigmatism of external sourcing, this case study proves that Mexico and Nearshore can provide the perfect environment to try out new teams and approaches, which can lead to real operational and cost benefits.